Seen at the Festival of the Tree

...if you would be happy all your life, plant a garden ~ Chinese proverb

Friday, 27 September 2013

Salad Days: Salad Rescue In Progress

A selection of photos taken when my plants arrived :)
Sometimes I'm a totally rubbish gardener ;)

I sorted out the holiday watering for all of my plants except the seeds I'd sown in modules for winter salads. All that warm weather whilst we were away sent them to their doom.

I turned to my Cheat's Salad Guide, where Anna had recommended Delfland nurseries, a company which she'd found to be very good for vegetable plant supplies. Unlike most plant suppliers you can mix and match varieties to suit your needs as well as opting for their designated selection.

Looking at their website last Friday, I couldn't find which salad leaves were on offer for September, and so left a customer enquiry. They cleverly looked a bit further into my email address, spotted Veg Plotting and kindly offered some samples for me to try.*

A lovely well-packed box of 60 healthy organic plants arrived on Wednesday - 10 plants each of lamb's lettuce, land cress, 2 x lettuces (Winter Density and Arctic King), rocket and winter purslane. They're strong plug plants and I particularly liked that the padding used to protect the plants in the box is compostable.

Here's some of them planted out for the winter in the coldframe at the side of the house. I've lined the glass with recycled polystyrene sheets for extra warmth. The plants are closer together than the usual recommended spacing, but I've found this doesn't matter when using Charles Dowding's picking technique..

I hope to get a light picking from these before the light fades and the temperatures really drop next month. Then they'll snuggle down for winter before we start eating from these plants in earnest next spring.

I didn't quite have enough room for everything in my coldframes, so I planted the lamb's lettuce outside. It proved it can survive an exceptionally cold winter earlier this year, so I'm sure these plants won't mind. I also have a rather nice fleece 'cloche' which fits over this planter on standby just in case.

* = Anna really deserves these for her recommendation, not me.

In other salady news...

The seed tape salads I sowed up at the allotment last month are doing well. The other seeds have confirmed what I suspected at the time; uneven sowing = dreadfully uneven rows ;)

Have you heard about the Tomtato (TM) launched this week? It's a tomato plant grafted onto a potato plant (an old technique I mentioned in passing in my 2009 post about grafted tomatoes), which is being sold at £14.99 (!) a pop. If the potato is matched properly to the tomatoes' cropping time, it must be a maincrop. I hope they've chosen blight resistant varieties at that price...

Update: Interesting post by the Sarvari Trust on their prior experience with grafting tomatoes and potatoes. I also believe it was a technique tried during WWII in an attempt to increase wartime crop production. I've yet to find actual evidence to support my vague memory of reading that somewhere...

How's your salad faring this month? As usual Mr Linky is standing by to receive the URLs of your salad related posts :)


  1. Sometimes even the best gardener is a rubbish gardener. I speak feelingly, about the rubbish bit anyway. I really need to get my mesclun planted before the big snows!

    1. Thanks Helen - though I feel I'm more of a rubbish gardener than I should be! It was that need to get cracking for winter which led me to take emergency measures and buy in my plants :)

  2. I'm not doing the salady thing really, but interested in your mention of Delfland. I love purslane, but I can't get it to germinate (grrrr) - worth exploring alternatives...

    1. Hi Kate - I don't usually have problems with germination, but bolting's a different matter! I'm hoping the picking method will help on that score :)

  3. I have found Delftland good. The secret with seedlings is to plant AS SOON as they arrive and water them in really well.
    I ring the company and check exactly when the plugs are likely to arrive so I can plan the order and so plan the planting.
    At this time of year its crucial to plant in a sunny spot - even for lettuces. I notice you have beds beneath a wall which looks really good to me.

    1. Hi and welcome to Veg Plotting. Good tips thank you - I had an email telling me when my plants would arrive. I don't know whether that is part of their usual service as my order wasn't completed via the website, hence no mention in my blog post.

  4. Glad to read that Delfland turned up trumps VP and hope that the plants concerned flourish :) I've read about the tomtato with mixed feelings - shades of something sinister come to mind but maybe I've got an overactive imagination.

    1. Anna - you truly deserve these more than I as you took the trouble to comment the last time.

      As for the tomato - it isn't really sinister as it's just exploiting the way grafting works. The knack is finding the right rootstock to match the aerial portion of the plant. It'll be interesting to see if the novelty wears off after a season or two. One has to wonder why it didn't catch on in the first place all those years ago...

    2. Gah - that should read Tomtato!

  5. well, I'm an even worse gardener, as I didn't even manage to get further than putting aside the seeds for my winter salads and oriental leaves. I have been toying with ordering plugs fro Delfland, but the slugs and snails have made depressingly short work of the parsley and coriander plugs I got from them, so I think I may just accept that this has been a bad year for me, gardening-wise. There's always next year.

  6. Hi Janet - it was the slug and snail problem last year which led to me writing The Cheat's Guide to Growing Salad ;)

    I thought of you as we drove to/from Holyhead for the ferry last month :)


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